Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chaired a meeting this afternoon of the Government’s COBR emergency committee, on the UK’s response to the Ebola crisis. After the meeting the Foreign Secretary said:
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is already an unprecedented humanitarian emergency for the affected countries. If we fail to act now it could become a global catastrophe with disastrous consequences.
Following today’s meeting I can announce a significantly increased package of UK support to tackling Ebola in West Africa, closely coordinated with the UN. At the heart of the package is a commitment to lead and underwrite the provision of a total of 700 treatment beds.
More than 200 of these beds are already in the delivery pipeline. The UK will now deliver a further 500 beds over the coming months, working with partners to provide and train the international staff and support needed to operate those beds.
This approach will use the experience that the UK already has in Sierra Leone to allow other countries to provide support that can be quickly turned in to effective aid.
The UK Armed Forces have played a pivotal role in delivering the current construction pipeline and will continue to play a critical role in the UK’s response. Military personnel will work with the government of Sierra Leone to identify sites for the additional beds and to provide engineering, logistics and planning expertise to support its wider efforts, including through training.
The Foreign Secretary said:
Bringing this outbreak under control needs significant international cooperation. The UK has committed to taking a leading role in Sierra Leone, a country we know well. We will establish the beds and the operating framework, and encourage the international community to step forward to meet the international staffing requirement, in coordination with the UN. I look forward to discussing this with other UN Member States next week at the UN General Assembly, and the UK will host a pledging meeting in London in early October, at which partner nations will be able to confirm their contribution to Sierra Leone.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:
Health teams in Sierra Leone, including many funded by the UK, are working tirelessly to contain this disease but it is clear that the international community needs to do much more.
Britain is increasing dramatically our support to the Government of Sierra Leone to 700 beds, a surge bringing Ebola treatment beds in country to 1,000 in order to save lives and contain the spread of disease.
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